One of San Diego’s oldest civic organizations, San Diego Floral Association was founded in 1907. It was a spin-off from the Chamber of Commerce, a group eager to see improvements in the appearance of their small, dry and dusty city.
San Diego Floral aimed to help citizens, many of whom arrived from different states and climates, to beautify their home gardens by using plants and growing techniques appropriate to the local Mediterranean climate. Early flower shows introduced San Diegans to the wide variety of plants that could be grown successfully in the region. Free plants and cuttings were distributed and instructive brochures were given away as encouragement to homeowners to beautify their own gardens.
In furtherance of its educational mission, San Diego Floral Association began publication of California Garden magazine in July 1909. The magazine has been published continuously since its founding, providing more than a century of specialized information for growing food and ornamental plants in the San Diego region. The magazine is a treasure trove of San Diego’s horticultural history and has attracted contributions from a who’s who of authoritative gardeners, growers, botanists and nursery owners, including hundreds of articles written by Kate O. Sessions. California Garden is the second oldest horticulture magazine in continuous publication in the United States.
The organization exercised a major influence in the transformation of San Diego into a garden spot while also working to protect and improve Balboa Park. Additionally, the Floral Association has advocated to preserve natural resources in our region, including wildflower fields, the coastal Torrey Pine forest and groves of native oak trees.
In 1923, under the sponsorship of the City Park and Recreation Department, the Floral Association was allocated space for a headquarters in Balboa Park. Its first home was the Kansas Building, originally constructed for the 1915 exposition. In 1972, the Association’s office and library were relocated to Balboa Park’s new Garden Center at the Casa del Prado, the hub for horticultural meetings and regularly scheduled plant and flower shows and sales. The Association will celebrate 100 years of service in Balboa Park in 2023.
While revering our founders, including A. D. Robinson and Kate O. Sessions, and taking pride in a long history, the Floral Association is forward looking. Funding scholarships for horticultural students and promoting school gardens are two key programs today, along with classes and free public programs that further the Floral Association’s mission to promote the knowledge and appreciation of horticulture and floriculture in the San Diego region.
Mission: To promote the knowledge and appreciation of horticulture and floriculture in the San Diego region.